By: Damien Knight
I looked up the steep, snow-covered hill, and then looked over to my father. He looked tired and drained. I was glad to have him with me. My father was in the Army and he had recently returned from the field and soon would leave our home in Germany for Bosnia. I wanted to show him my favorite place to think before he left.
“It’s just up Suicide Hill, Dad, in the woods that line it. You can see the sunset there and it’s very beautiful,” I said.
My dad looked at me with worn out eyes. He always hated when we called the hill Suicide Hill but that day he did not comment. I could see the faint lines under his eyes as he smiled at me. We continued up the hill. With each step the snow crunched beneath us.
When we reached the top, I showed my dad a narrow entrance into the woods. One bare tree limb laid across the path. I pushed it out of the way and stepped into the opening. Laying in front of us was a large fallen log with mushrooms growing on it. The snow had been removed from it due to my many visits. I sat down on the old rotting log to face the sunset.
“Sit with me, Dad. This is my quiet place, where I like to think and watch the sunset,” I told him.
He sat down beside me and looked up at the setting sun.
“It’s beautiful,” he whispered.
Soon the silence rushed in around us and all was still. The sunset was intense as the sky turned bright orange and scarlet and the clouds pink and lavender. A few birds that stayed during the winter chirped in the trees. The gentle fragrance of pine needles wafted by with the icy wind, and I never wanted to leave.
The sun descended lazily behind the trees. I turned to face the other way to see if there were any stars. There were none, not yet anyway. I heard the wind billow past me and watched as it bent the trees. A sudden chill filled the air and drew I my coat tighter around me as the sky darkened. The sky was now a royal purple with a streak of bright orange sun visible only as rays between the trees.
I looked behind me again and spotted a single star in the sky. A beautiful bright white star against a darkening plum night.
“Dad, look at the star,” I said.
He turned to look.
Then I chanted, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, wish I may, wish I might, please grant my wish tonight.” I smiled at my father and wished for the moment to last forever.
“It’s getting dark. We should go in now,” my father said.
I stood up slowly. I could still smell the sweet scent of pine in the wind. Soon I was hearing grunting sounds as well. This was a familiar sound in those woods, the sound of wild boars. My father had already left and I hurried up and followed after him. Even though I was only nine I knew I would never forget those woods.
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